By ROY WOOD
Council listened politely Monday an RDOS planner spent close to half an hour talking about a “minor update” to the district’s regional growth strategy (RGS), which will have essentially no impact on growth in the town.
Evelyn Riechert began her talk by explaining that the update, which came out of an optional five-year review, is minor in nature and that “no new policies” are included in it. Rather there is some re-ordering and some minor wording changes.
She also emphasized that the role of the DGS is advisory and “not regulatory.”
The strategy was launched in 2004 but took until 2010 to be adopted by the RDOS, indicating the difficulty in dealing with the strategy’s inherent regulatory and jurisdictional complexities and potential conflicts.
Mayor Ron Hovanes related a quip from a fellow RDOS board member from earlier discussions, describing RGS as the “regional growth suggestion.”
The most impressive list of items in her PowerPoint talk was the list of things remaining on the RGS to-do list, including:
- Develop a regional air quality management plan;
- Support creation of a regional transit plan;
- Support a health and wellness strategy;
- Explore the benefits of a regional housing plan;
- Work toward a regional arts and culture strategy;
- Support regional economic development; and
- Develop a regional employment lands strategy.
In response to a reporter’s question, Hovanes said the RGS is really aimed at growth in the rural areas and not in the towns.
He lauded the RGS for its emphasis on focusing development in “serviced areas in designated primary growth areas.”
“Growth should (be) centred in areas where there are (water and sewer) services,” he said.
Councillor Jack Bennest urged a more active role for the district in restraining growth in unincorporated areas. “When does the RDOS say to a place like Gallagher Lake ‘enough?’”
Water Councillor Rick Machial urged the district to take seriously its goal to get involved in air quality management.
He said he recently called the district to complain about someone burning leaves or agricultural waste on a day when burning wasn’t allowed.
“They told me to call 911,” he said.
If the regional district wants to take on air quality protection, they should “step up and have someone there to answer the phone,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to tell people to call 911.”